Peter Galbraith, political affairs minister in the U.N. administration in East Timor, said he’d “seen very little evidence” that Indonesia was serious in its efforts to bring to trial those responsible for the violence.
“If there’s no progress toward bringing to justice the people responsible for the crimes ... there should be an international war crimes tribunal,” Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia, told journalists in East Timor’s capital, Dili.
Galbraith said the world had already waited two years for Indonesia to prosecute those responsible.
His call for international action is the highest yet from a serving U.N. official. Until now, U.N. workers in East Timor, and at the world body’s headquarters in New York, have said Indonesia should be allowed to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence itself, before an international court is considered.
Hundreds of people were killed, tens of thousands forced to flee their homes, and much of the territory’s infrastructure destroyed when Indonesia’s army and its militia proxies went on the rampage after East Timor voted in 1999 for independence in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.
The violence only came to a halt when an international peacekeeping force arrived in September that year. The territory is being governed by the U.N. during its transition to full independence, expected early next year.
Investigators in Jakarta have named several Indonesian military commanders and militia leaders as suspects in the 1999 rampage. But no trials have started yet and Indonesian authorities have refused to extradite suspects to East Timor for trial.
Galbraith, who was involved in setting up a war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, officially steps down from his U.N. post Monday after 18 months in East Timor.
BD: Calls for International War Crimes Tribunal - A collection of recent reports, articles and news